The Sustainable Growth Commission will set out a “Come to Scotland” package as one of its key recommendations for growing the economy, by incentivising inward investment and driving population growth.
The proposal, tailor-made for Scotland’s social and economic needs, is in contrast to the UK Tory Government’s hostile approach to migration, which presents significant barriers to attracting the talent and investment that Scotland’s economy needs to reach its potential.
Demographic trends mean that the need to boost population is more pressing for Scotland than for the rest of the UK, something made even more urgent by Brexit and the difficulties it poses when attracting skilled workers.
A Come to Scotland package would be specifically geared to increase the inflow of investors, entrepreneurs, highly-skilled workers and students. It would add significant value on top of the net tax contribution of £1,300 million the 429,000 residents of Scotland, born outside the UK, already make to Scotland’s economy. Policies to boost the population should also focus on returning Scots and people from the rest of the UK who wish to bring their skills and talents to Scotland.
The package is central to the first of “3 Ps” which underpin the Sustainable Growth Commission’s report – population, participation and productivity – and its recommendations to raise the potential and performance of the Scottish economy. The proposals include:
Exploring “transition relief” for highly skilled workers to offset defined costs associated with moving to Scotland against income tax, to attract the best and brightest talent.
Aiming to retain an additional 5,000 international graduates each year to deliver an economic boost of £1.5 billion per year within a decade.
Reducing costs, lowering investment thresholds and supporting entrepreneurs.
A new visa system benchmarked on the most efficient and easy to use in the world.
Sustainable Growth Commission Chair Andrew Wilson said:
“We have a great opportunity for Scotland to strike a completely different tone on a vitally important area of economic policy – how we attract talent to our country.
“For the next 25 years all of Scotland’s projected population growth is expected to come from migration. Under current UK policy there is a real danger that the working population in Scotland could fall, meaning fewer people creating wealth, jobs and contributing to our NHS. Growing our working population and, through it, our economy is perhaps the greatest national challenge we have and is made even more urgent by Brexit and the threat it poses to our working age population. Scotland needs more migration to drive our economy forwards and we need to extend a friendly welcome to international talent.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“Our package is designed to attract people to Scotland to study and then to stay here, to build a career, and a fulfilling future for themselves. We need investors, entrepreneurs and a skilled workforce to achieve our potential.
“It is in Scotland’s best interests to grow our population sustainably, but we need the right powers and policies in place to allow that to happen. All parties need to recognise that and to act in the best interests of Scotland’s economy and our society.”